Shippers Deliver Small-Business Bonuses

Miami Herald:

Morris Mays — county employee by day, inventor by night — excused himself to change into the costume he sometimes dons to sell the toothbrush-sterilization system he created.

Emerging in a sharply pressed black tuxedo, he asked: “Do you get it? I’m dressed to kill.”

If Mays’ germ-killing outfit is a bit unexpected, so is the source of funding that’s helped him launch his invention: package shipper DHL.

As logistics giants FedEx, UPS and DHL battle for small business clients, they are increasingly rolling out services that have little to do with hauling packages from Point A to Point Z.

FedEx, for instance, has quietly become the nation’s second-largest producer of signs and banners, and it’s about to unveil a service aimed at helping entrepreneurs get into the direct-mail marketing industry.

DHL has launched a new small-business magazine and is funding micro-enterprise efforts such as the one for Mays.

And UPS has become one of the top providers of Small Business Administration-backed loans in the country.

There’s no secret why the companies are increasingly wooing mom-and-pop shops. Of the 23 million businesses in the country, a full 98 percent are small enterprises, according to the SBA. And 97 percent of all exporters are small ventures.

This year, Mays has sold about $5,000 worth of Sports Toothbrushes, which retail for between $5.99 and $9.99, he said.

“I couldn’t have done this on my own,” said the 52-year-old facility manager at the Miami-Dade County Action Agency. “This has been a big shot in the arm.”

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